Should Jun Abaya choose between DOTC and LP?

MANILA, Philippines – He has both the entire portfolio of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the ruling party to worry about, but Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya doesn’t think he is stretched at all.

“I spend 99%…no, I spend 70% of my time in DOTC, I spent 29.99% of my time for my family. .01% lang ang LP sa akin (The LP only gets 0.01 of my time),” Abaya told Rappler.

Abaya, who is also acting president of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), faced reporters on Wednesday, November 4, as the DOTC handles yet another controversy. This time, it’s an alleged extortion scheme where ammunition is planted in the bags of unsuspecting travellers. (TIMELINE: Recent cases of alleged bullet scam at NAIA)

Airport security and police are accused of colluding to make the laglag-bala scam happen, an accusation they deny. 

During a long press conference that lasted more than two hours, Abaya insisted that despite media reports, evidence doesn’t suggest that an actual syndicate is out to make victims of unsuspecting travellers.

Abaya, a former Cavite representative and LP stalwart, is no stranger to calls for him to step down. The loudest was in 2014, after a Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) train bulldozed security barriers, injuring its passengers. (READ: Abaya to resign? 'One text, I could go')

“I’m a public servant and I signed up for this job. I know it’s part of it. But it’s a privilege for me to be serving the people. And that’s par for the course. I didn’t expect to be a public servant and be praised, be applauded. No. In the truest sense of the word, it’s public service with all the criticisms and negativism attached to it. But again, it continues to be a privilege for me to be serving our people,” said Abaya, when asked if the criticism gets to him.

In a chance interview after the press conference and a quick tour of the airport’s security facilities, Rappler asked Abaya if he thinks it's time to either resign from the LP or DOTC.

“I always talk to the President and always assure him that the decent, honest service that he exacts on himself is the same standard that I require of myself. If I drift from that, any time, any text for me, I [can] go,” said Abaya, echoing the answer he gave to reporters back in 2014.

Abaya is the highest-ranking LP officer next to President Benigno Aquino III, who is chairman, and LP vice chairmen Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.

The party’s president, Manuel Roxas II, is on leave as LP president and is also its standard-bearer. – Rappler.com